Section 13: High-Risk Instructional Programs


      A.     The following policies have been established by Piedmont Virginia Community College to ensure that best practices for high-risk instructional programs are identified and implemented. A high-risk instructional program is defined as any program that puts students in a learning environment that can cause immediate, grievous, and unique bodily harm. The following programs at PVCC have been identified as high risk:

  1. Building Trades
  2. Construction Management
  3. Welding
  4. Woodworking

      B.     Individual safety procedures for each of these programs are included in Appendix G of this manual. 

      C.     For programs that are conducted at a third-party offsite location, the safety procedures of the third-party must comply with the PVCC safety procedures. Third-party safety procedures are included in Appendix G of this manual.

13.1      Supervision of Students in Labs

      A.     Instructors of high-risk instructional programs shall establish policies for the supervision of students in labs. Appropriate supervision of students is necessary to ensure those safe procedures are practiced to prevent accidents and to ensure prompt response in case of an accident.

      B.     If a student needs additional time on equipment to perform work, the instructor shall be present to supervise.

      C.     If the instructor or lab manager must leave the lab for any reason during class time, students shall stop working and power down equipment. Any exceptions shall be documented and must have approval from the dean of the program.

13.2      Instructors Shall Stay Current in Their Industry

      A.     Instructors of industrial technology programs are encouraged to stay current with the latest practices and requirements related to safety in their industry. Options available to achieve this goal include, without limitation, the following:

  1. Obtain certification through professional organizations, when available.
  2. Participate in continuing professional education.
  3. Read and study textbooks that are written or endorsed by industry organizations.
  4. Maintain a business related to the program the instructor is teaching.
  5. Utilize advisory councils for support and information.

13.3      Safety in Labs & Classrooms

      A.     PVCC shall provide written procedures related to safety in labs and classrooms. Lab safety protocols shall be current and shall be followed by instructors, staff, and students to establish class rules and set expectations.

      B.     Procedures based on industry standards may not be sufficient. Safety standards promulgated by OSHA and other standards-setting bodies are designed for experienced professionals; therefore, these standards may not be adequate for inexperienced students. For example, while industry standards only require non-flammable clothing while welding, colleges should consider requiring welding smocks or aprons to further protect students. Additionally, industry standards do not forbid welding or machining while alone, but students should not be left unsupervised in the labs.

13.4      Personal Projects in Labs

      A.     Work on personal projects in the lab will be allowed when it can be demonstrated that the experience provides a positive learning opportunity for the student and that the project will allow the student to apply lessons learned in class.

      B.     Personal projects shall only be allowed if their use provides a learning experience to the entire class and does not benefit one person.

      C.     Instructors shall consider the safety and liability risks before allowing students, instructors, or staff to work on personal projects in labs using the state-owned equipment.

      D.     When personal projects will be unattended (continuous operations, overnight reactions, etc.), the following procedures shall be followed:

  1. Supervising faculty shall review work procedures to ensure the safe completion of the operation.
  2. Place appropriate signs at all entrances to the lab detailing special precautions for custodial workers, etc.
  3. Develop precautions to be used in case of interruption of utility service (loss of water pressure, electricity, etc.) during the unattended operation.
  4. The person responsible for the operation shall return to the laboratory at the conclusion of the operation to assist in the dismantling of the apparatus and to remove all signs.

13.5      Safety Requirements in Instructor Evaluation Forms

PVCC shall incorporate safety components in the annual evaluation of instructors and student evaluations of instructors. These evaluations shall indicate whether or not the instructors are teaching and practicing current, appropriate safety standards, and if they are receiving current professional training in their field.

13.6      Classroom & Lab Rules of Behavior

       A.     PVCC shall require all students in high-risk instructional programs to sign a Code of Conduct which lists rules of behavior for students and indicates that they will follow and practice all safety policies taught in class.

  1. The code shall include requirements related to student behavior in general and be consistent with existing college policies.
  2. The code shall include sanctions, beginning with intermediate sanctions and progressing to dismissal from a class period, class, or program if warranted. Instructors must be able to enforce such sanctions to make the code effective.
  3. Students shall be required to sign an Assumption of Risk form on or before the first meeting of the class.

13.7      Instructors Shall be Familiar with Emergency Equipment

Instructors in high-risk instructional programs shall be familiar with emergency equipment used in their labs and shall be proficient in the use of that emergency equipment.

13.8      Students Shall Pass a Safety Test Before Working in Labs

      A.     PVCC shall require students in high-risk instructional programs to pass safety tests before working in labs. If possible, safety tests shall be based on those issued by industry governing bodies or professional organizations.

      B.     For critical safety questions missed, or when a test is failed, instructors shall either require re-taking of the test or questions or shall work with the student one-on-one to ensure that the student understands the core concept.

  1. If the instructor chooses to work with the student rather than utilize a written re-test, results shall be documented to provide evidence that the student understands the concept. 

      C.     Results of testing and remediation shall be retained by the department.

13.9      Utilize Advisory Councils to Examine Safety-Related Topics

      A.     PVCC shall require active involvement of advisory councils for high-risk instructional programs. Advisory councils shall meet at least annually, shall provide input on curriculum, and shall discuss current safety topics seen in the specific industry.

      B.     Advisory Council membership shall be inclusive to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

13.10      Students Shall Receive Emergency Training

      A.     In order to reduce the likelihood of confusion and panic during extreme situations, PVCC shall require the inclusion of student emergency training and awareness in classes with specific risks of fire, electrocution, or injury.

      B.     Students shall be trained in the use of fire blankets, fire extinguishers, emergency kill-switches, and other emergency response equipment. Instructors may also include basic first aid and use of an AED if such training is appropriate for a particular class.

13.11      Stress Importance of Safety in Course Outlines/Syllabi

Course outlines/syllabi for all high-risk instructional programs shall indicate that safety is part of the student’s grade and shall also indicate where safety standards originate, such as professional organizations and governing bodies.

13.12      Include a Listing of All Safety Equipment in Course Outline/Syllabi

Course outlines/syllabi for high-risk instructional programs shall list requirements for the use of safety equipment and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and shall also detail which equipment is required and which equipment is recommended but not required.

13.13      Labs Shall be Clean and Organized and Display Safety Signage

      A.     All labs shall be kept organized, neat, and clean.

      B.     Appropriate safety signage shall be displayed.

13.14      Require Equipment Inspections

      A.     Instructors for all high-risk instructional programs shall inspect equipment before and during each semester to detect problems and ensure the safe use of equipment.

      B.     Instructors shall follow guidelines for inspections from equipment manufacturers as well as relevant industry standards.

      C.     Documentation of inspections shall be kept in order to track the timing of inspections and necessary maintenance.

13.15      Enforce Practices Written in Course Syllabi

Instructors for all high-risk instructional programs shall enforce practices written in the syllabi.

Back to Safety Manual Home Page